It's really important that our young students (thinking specifically about our Pre-Kinder through 1st but keeping in mind this is true for all readers) start off with a strong foundation of letter-sound knowledge to support their early reading efforts. During the early stages of reading instruction it's so important that we focus on two key aspects.
1. Phonological Awareness
Students need this foundational ability to blend the sounds of letters together and also to break them apart. This is a necessary skill in order to "sound-out" words and for spelling.
But of equal importance students need to know their letters and the sounds of those letters with enough automaticity to be able to blend those sounds together. Which brings us to the second key aspect.
Often students (especially at-risk students) are going to struggle significantly with their letter sounds. If they cannot look at the letter and then quickly pull up its corresponding sound, they will be unable to decode. A student's working memory cannot support holding onto all the other sounds within the word if it takes longer than a couple of seconds for the student to recognize the letter and its sound.
We set up our interactive notebook as a fun activity to support systematic letter instruction. Usually, we pull in these activities in the order of our instruction. So if we are teaching the letters C and O, we would pull the C and O and work on adding each of those cards to the student notebook. We set it up so that the student has the opportunity to practice saying the letter sound, writing the letter while saying the letter sound and coloring a picture of the keyword for the letter sound.
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